Guest blog by Carla F.
Merriam-Webster defines a trope as “a common or overused theme or device”. However, it seems to me that it can only be “overused” if it brings nothing new to distinguish itself from all the others. The one thing more satisfying than reading a romance is reading one that has your favorite plot. It is like when you slip on that old, ratty, soft sweatshirt that is still in your closet after all these years and laze around at home all day.
Marriage of convenience (MOC) plots were my first love (and I have never forgotten them ). In a MOC the couple decides to marry for financial and/or matter-of-fact reasons. My love of this type of plot started in the days when in romance novels, the woman didn’t lose her virginity until her wedding night. The only way to read more sexually explicit love scenes was in a MOC. It might be days or sometimes even years, but you know the couple will have sex as surely as they will fall in love. “Harlequin Presents” had a lot of these back then. I remember books by Anne Mather and Charlotte Lamb in particular. The woman would have a brother/step-brother/father who was about to bring the family firm/family to financial ruin, and she would have to marry the millionaire/playboy/tycoon to save it/them. (Of course the added bonus with these types of marriages is that you got to live the life of the stinking rich, but of course the woman didn’t care about any of that.) Nowadays you don’t see that many MOC plots in “Harlequin Presents” because the woman has to become the rich man’s mistress in order to save the day! The times have changed.
There are many reasons for a MOC besides saving the family business, and these are reflected in some of my favorites:
- The Admiral's Penniless Bride by Carla Kelly - (Regency) - Sally Paul was set to be a companion to an old lady, but the lady dies right before Sally shows up. With no money left, her only choice seems to be the workhouse. Lucky for her she goes to spend her last money on a cup of tea and encounters Sir Charles Bright who can tell that Sally is in trouble. He offers to marry her because he feels sorry for her, and he needs to marry anyway.
- The Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day (Regency) - In this one Gerard Faulkner, Marquess of Grayson, wants to embarrass his mother and have her stop hounding him to get married by asking the scandalous Lady Isabel Pelham, who is the lover of one of his friends, to be his wife. Pel has just turned down her lover’s marriage proposal because she doesn’t want to marry again with love involved. She does accept Grayson’s proposal of a MOC. The couple settles down in friendship, but continues their romances outside the marriage. Gerald leaves their home when a tragedy strikes. When he returns years later, he wants a real marriage with Pel.
- A Daring Proposition by Jennifer Green (Contemporary) - Leigh Sexton desperately wants a baby, but not marriage. No way is Brian Hathaway going to just make a deposit at a sperm bank. He wants to be involved in his child’s life so he wants marriage.
- Miss Winthorpe's Elopement by Christine Merrill (Regency) - Her brother is a bully and wants to continue to control her money. Bluestocking Penny Winthorpe has had enough, so she climbs into a carriage to go get a man to marry her. She finds one when her carriage almost runs over the drunken Adam Felkirk, Duke of Bellston, who because of severe investment losses is trying to kill himself.
- To Tempt a Saint by Kate Moore (Regency) - This is another one were the woman wants to gain control of her money. In this book, Cleo’s evil uncle leaves her and younger brother just barely scraping by on a farm. Alexander Jones who saved the prince’s life needs Cleo’s money so that he can invest in a gasworks that will light up the streets of the horrible London slum, St. Giles. (Well-lighted streets will help him find his missing brother.)
A MOC plot that didn’t work for me was Bought for Marriage by Margaret Mayo (Contemporary) this “Harlequin Presents” was like the ones that I used to read. Dutiful daughter is sent by ailing father to go to his enemy (say what?) to save the family business. Greek tycoon demands marriage.
Seems like I read that one before.
What are some of your favorite books with this type of plot?